Fri | Jan 19, 2018

A tribute to Dad

Published:Saturday | June 18, 2016 | 12:00 AM


While at graduate school in 2003, the professor of my communication class, Michael Walden, required all of us to list and speak about the top five most influential and impacting male leaders in our lives. My list was Yeshua Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Michael Manley, and Noel Aiken. I stood in front of the class and began:

Yeshua Christ: He was introduced to me by my father and I came to know Him further through the writings of His first-century friends and an Ivy League lawyer called Paul. I became intrigued by His higher-level thinking and by His compassionate action towards those who were disadvantaged in some physical, mental, or emotional way. "You have heard it said," He would say, "'Thou shalt not ...', but I say ... ." Then He would mesmerise or anger His listeners with a remarkable statement that showed His out-of-the-box thinking!

He seemed never afraid to act kindly, even when His action went against the established religious or political will of the day! To this day, Jesus Christ remains my most revered philosopher, social advocate, and social practitioner!

Mahatma Gandhi: He was introduced to me by my father, and I came to know more about him through historical stories, written mostly by the British. This means that even though they were good and noble stories, only half the truth was told! Subsequently then, Gandhi was perhaps a greater man than history records! What a man! He chose non-violence in situations where even a priest and nun would have become aggressive.

Martin Luther King: He was introduced to me by my father, and I learned much more about him through tapes and CDs I eventually acquired while in university. He was a particular favourite of my lecturer in social action and political organising classes, Marshall Ganz, so his writings, or writings about him, were often on the reading list. Martin Luther King's rhetorical leadership skills are incomparable!

Michael Manley: He was introduced to me by my father and, by himself, when he took a detour from his designated red-carpet walk to a platform where some dignitaries awaited him and instead took a longer walk to a group of children and stooped and spent time with us. Loved by many, lambasted by others, yet Manley undoubtedly was a visionary leader who was bold enough to effect needed change to our social, educational, and political landscape. This was in order that the majority of us Jamaicans could be educated and prosperous enough today to argue about his significance!

Noel Aiken: He's my father.

As I gathered my notes to take my seat, one not-so-bright student said, "So you're not going to tell us about your father?" To which the professor simply said, "Duhhhh?! That's an A+!"

The upbraided and now enlightened student sensibly replied, "TouchÈ!"

Happy Father's Day, Dad.